Dundee United’s Danish signings look set to sizzle for Tangerines

Danish pair Thomas Mikkelsen and Emil Lyng.
Danish pair Thomas Mikkelsen and Emil Lyng.

In terms of physique and depth, there is no question Csaba Laszlo has used the January transfer window to add strength to his squad.

The arrival of Danish pair Emil Lyng and Thomas Mikkelsen has given a more robust look to the Tangerines’ front line.

And while he’s unlikely to be a regular starter, as his cameo appearance in Saturday’s Scottish Cup win at Alloa demonstrated, French teenager Idris Kadded looks capable of handling the rigours of the man’s game.

The addition of Lyng and Mikkelsen, in particular, begs the question are we going to see a more direct style of football from United?

On the evidence of the weekend the answer to that is no. Take into account Laszlo’s career-long preference for his teams to play a passing game where possession is key, and that negative response is firmed up.

What the arrival of these big men does, though, is provide the option of something more akin to route one football if needs must.

Emil Lyng gets in the thick of the action against Alloa at the weekend.

And while the manager is very much a disciple of the patient build up and prefers a pass to a punt, he is also pragmatic.

From day one in the job he’s stressed that, while he wants his team to keep the ball, their play must be with a purpose.

During the first half against Alloa he was beside himself with frustration over the way United dominated the ball but without going anywhere for long spells.

It led to a blast from him in the dressing-room at the interval and an insistence that, while passing remained the priority, it had to be done positively.

The response he got was a second-half performance that saw United get the ball forward quickly and chances created.

That’s the way he plans for things to continue but, as a pragmatist as well as a perfectionist, between now and the end of the season Arabs can expect spells in games when long balls up to Mikkelsen and Lyng will be used.

Eight points behind St Mirren in the promotion race, a run of wins will be vital if that gap is to be closed.

That means if all isn’t going to plan, it could be a case of loading the opposition penalty box and getting the ball in there early.

While he’s not 100% match fit after spending the last couple of months at Ross County watching from the bench, Mikkelsen’s play on Saturday suggested it’s a policy that could bring dividends.

Once he got into his stride at the Indodrill Stadium, the 29-year-old was a good focal point for United’s attacking play. He won his fair share in the air and, when the ball was played up to his feet, his link play was impressive.

Coming in from wide, Lyng was also an asset and doing that produced his first goal for the club, one that sealed the victory.

Their presence and the option of being able to hit them with balls from the back makes United less predictable.

Since the end of the year the opposition knowing what to expect has been a problem for them.

In the horror show at Falkirk, the home team were able to drop back to near the halfway line and leave United struggling to find a way through them.

Even in the draw at Dunfermline a week later, while they dominated possession, it was the Pars who had more clear-cut openings.

They were ready for United’s more patient build-up and largely nullified them as an attacking threat.

With the option of an early long ball up to the big men, or even in behind the defence because they have decent pace, teams might not now find them so easy to defend against.